5 Minute Craft: Frosted Pumpkins

I love crafts but often don’t have the patience to finish them. This one is so easy that even I can do it. It’s cheap too and makes a perfect Halloween centerpiece. This method is easy and I already have ideas for Christmas to use pears and persimmons.

Frosted Pumpkins

1 bag epsom salts (so much cheaper than glitter, and has a nicer subtler effect)

2 T white glue

2 T water

paintbrush

small pumpkins or gourds

Mix glue and water together, I used a disposable cup for easy clean up. Paint pumpkin with glue mixture.

Sprinkle with epsom salts. I did it over a paper plate for faster clean up.

Let dry and arrange in group on table, I scattered some fall leaves around first, I would use real ones but I’m in Florida so I went with the silk ones. This would be fun with kids too as a party craft.

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Tomatillos 101 : Meatloaf with Creamy Tomatillo Gravy

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What’s a tomatillo? Is it a green tomato? I often get asked these questions when checking out at the supermarket. These crazy little husked fruits are actually members of the goose berry family and have a tart taste. Mostly used in latin cuisine, these are the little gems that make salsa verde and the green sauce for enchiladas green. They are actually not ripe when green which makes the taste tart instead of sweeter like its red, purple or brown counterparts.

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To use the husk must be removed, revealing a slightly sticky skin. After removing the husk, skin and seeds are all edible.

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I love to make cream sauces with these because I love the balance of the cream with the tartness. This gravy would also be great on chicken or pork.

Meatloaf with Creamy Tomatillo Gravy

for the meatloaf

2 lbs ground meat ( I used 1/2 pork and 1/2 beef my favorite meatloaf combination)

1 egg

2 T cream

2 T Cholula Hot Sauce (use your favorite)

2T ketchup

2t salt

1t black pepper

1t dried oregano

1 t cumin

2 t chopped garlic

1/2 c bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, place into a baking pan and form into a loaf shape. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.

for tomatillo gravy

5 tomatillos, husks removed and chopped

1 c chopped onion

4 garlic cloves chopped

1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth

1 t green hot sauce (optional)

1/2 cream

1/2 t pepper

1/2 t salt

Saute tomatillos and onion in a large pan until soft, add garlic and saute 2 more minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

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Add cream, salt and pepper and cook for 5 more minutes, puree with a hand blender or regular blender if desired.

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Serve over sliced meatloaf with masked potatoes or rice.

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Spicy Pumpkin Hummus …..with Beer!

Yes another pumpkin recipe, gotta get them in while I can. This one is a spicy earthy dip perfect on Pretzel Crisps or Pita Chips. Beer can be omitted just add more olive oil., or try your favorite style instead, stout, pumpkin beer etc..)Bring this to your next fall gathering.

Spicy Pumpkin Hummus

1 can garlands beans (chick peas)

1 can pure pumpkin

4 garlic cloves

2t chipotle chili powder

1/2 t cumin

1/2 t  ground ginger

1 t cinnamon

1 t salt

3-4 T olive oil

2 T honey

1/4 c beer ( I used an IPA, Lancaster Brewing’s Hop Hog to be exact)

2 T lemon juice

1 T pepitas

Combine all ingredients except pepitas in a food processor. Whirl until smooth, taste, add salt or olive oil if necessary. Pour into serving bowl, top with 2 T olive oil, pepitas and a sprinkle of chipotle chili powder.

Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin Chili

 

Get out the spice rack, this thick and satisfying chili has a great depth of flavor, warm, hearty, earthy and spicy. Perfect for Halloween night or any fall dinner, serve  it with naan or couscous.

Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin Chili

1 1/2 lbs ground beef or lamb

3 tbsp hot curry powder

1/4 t ground cloves

1/4 t cardamom

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1/4 t cumin

1/4 t nutmeg

1 T cinnamon

1 T honey

1 T tomato paste

4 garlic cloves chopped

1 c yellow onion chopped

1 150z can of pumpkin

1/2 c chopped dried apricots

14 oz can peeled tomatoes and juice

2 cups small gold potatoes quartered (or bite size)

3-4 c beef broth

salt to taste

In a large heavy pot brown ground beef over med high heat until cooked through, add, all the spices, tomato paste and honey, stir and cook 1 min, add garlic and onions, cook 2-3 minutes more, stirring constantly.

 

Add pumpkin, apricots, tomatoes and potatoes, stir, add broth and bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

 

 

 

Pepperoni and Cheese Stuffed Shells

 

Add a little zip to your stuffed shells recipe with pepperoni and arugula.

Pepperoni and Cheese Stuffed Shells

12 oz box of large shell shaped pasta

2 lb container of ricotta cheese

2 eggs

2 cups chopped pepperoni

3 c grated mozzarella cheese

1/4 c chopped arugula

1 T lemon juice

1 t lemon zest

2 T chopped basil

1 t crushed red pepper

1 t salt

1/2 t ground black pepper

1 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese

1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce

In a large pot boil shells until done, drain and rinse with cold water. Meanwhile prepare filling in a large mixing bowl. Add ricotta cheese, eggs, 1 cup pepperoni, arugula, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, 1 cup parmesan cheese and 1 1/2 c mozzarella cheese, stir until combined.

Pre heat oven to 350. Pour about 1/2 c of tomato sauce onto the bottom of a large glass casserole pan to prevent shells from sticking. Use a heaping tablespoon to stuff each past shell with cheese mixture. Line them up in your casserole pan.

Top with tomato sauce and remaining pepperoni, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

 

Bake for about 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and serve. Top with chopped basil and arugula if desired.

Peanut Chocolate Chip Bars : A Carnival in Your Mouth

 

Book Club Time, and it is Halloween Book Club so that’s always twice as exciting. This month’s host picked Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

A frightening tale about a sinister carnival. A perfectly spooky book for a perfectly spooky party. Costumes were required. I took the easy route and was a Barker (ok I really looked like a ringmaster, but those are only in circuses) This was an easy costume, fake mustache, top hat, vest, bow tie, jacket, and some boots, I already had all of those in my costume box (yes I am a grown adult with a dress up box, I think all adults should have them)

 

So now I need food, I wanted to do something with a carnival feel so I thought these easy bar cookies would fit the bill since they have caramel and peanuts. They are easy to make and very portable, perfect for book clubs or parties. They were such a hit I made them again for a Halloween party the next day.

Peanut Chocolate Chip Bars

2 tubes of refrigerated sugar cookie dough

3 cups salted peanuts

2 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup caramel sauce (ice cream topping)

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out sugar cookie dough onto a large sheet pan, using a rolling-pin sprinkled with four. I used a nonstick liner to make them easier to remove later. I also used a knife to cut straight edges after I rolled it out.

 

Bake dough in oven for about 12 minutes or until it is slightly golden, dough will still be soft in the middle.

 

Sprinkle the top with peanuts and chocolate chips. Then drizzle caramel sauce over the top.

 

Return them to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes longer or until cookie dough is firm and center begins to bubble. Let cool and cut into bars

Warm Apple, Bacon, and Spinach Salad

 

 

This is an easy and quick side dish or weeknight meal that captures the season’s flavors.

Warm Apple, Bacon, and Spinach Salad

5 slices of bacon chopped into 1″ pieces

1/4 c chopped onion

1 apple, chopped into bite sized pieces ( I left the skin on)

2 T apple cider vinegar

2 t honey

6 c fresh spinach

1/4 c pepitas (roasted and salted pumpkin seeds)

In a large fry pan, cook bacon over med high, add onions and cook until crisp, add apples and cook for 2 min, add honey and vinegar until heated through ( if you bacon is very fatty drain off all but 2 T fat before adding the honey and vinegar)

 

Add warm apple mixture to spinach toss and sprinkle with pepitas and serve.

Creamy Pumpkin Dip

 

This dip is perfect for a Fall, Halloween or Thanksgiving gathering. All the taste of pumpkin pie with out the hassle of baking, and its a finger food so it is perfect for parties.

Creamy Pumpkin Dip

1 8oz brick of cream cheese softened

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 c brown sugar

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 t vanilla

ginger snaps

sliced apples

Mix the cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, spice and vanilla in a mixing bowl with an electric beater until smooth and incorporated. Serve with apples and ginger snaps.

For a pretty and festive presentation, hollow out a small pumpkin or gourd and serve dip inside.

 

Tasting Party: Frush Yogurt and Fruit Shake

 

** Though not paid to write this review I was given free product to sample and promotional materials. 

Drinkable yogurt, the concept is not new, and I admit I thought of it as somewhat of a toddler drink.  I was proven wrong, I tried the new Frush Yogurt and Fruit Shake at my little tasting party. They were delicious and tasted like a milk shake. Each 8.4 oz bottle contains about 200 calories but they were very filling and would be a great meal substitute. My favorite was strawberry banana but the overall favorite was peach. They also come in blueberry and strawberry flavors.

 

They contain real fruit, have 9 grams of protein and 50% of your daily calcium requirement per serving. They are portable and have a cap so it was easy for my husband to add his daily helping of Chia and mix it with the yogurt. Trust me he usually makes a big mess, and can’t usually take his breakfast with him so he loved this new product. Even though some guests were worried about the amount of sugar, I liked the fact that they contain real sugar instead of scary chemical substitutes. I would have no problem with my two teenage boys making this their go to breakfast or after school snack. The yogurt and fruit shake was also delicious on apples and strawberries.  If you missed my tasting party but want to try this new drink click here for a coupon or check them out on facebook at www.facebook.com/gofrush

 

 

Halloween Cocktail: The Dark and Spooky

This Halloween cocktail is a play on the traditional dark and stormy. It’s made a little more gruesome with a black sugar rim and gummy insects or worms. Make it a mocktail for kids and non drinkers by omitting the rum and adding some fruit juice.

The Dark and Stormy Cocktail

Black sugar (found in the cake decorating aisle at the grocery during Halloween season)

lime wedges

ice

2 oz spiced rum (Captain Morgan, Sailor Jerry’s etc…)

6- 8 0z ginger ale or ginger beer

assorted gummy insects and worms (found in candy aisle at Halloween)

Take a highball glass and run a lime wedge around the top of the glass, dip into black sugar poured on a small plate or saucer.

Add ice, rum and ginger ale or beer. stir then add gummy creatures and serve.